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Lots of kids go to Ireland for a better life but disappear. He was OK.

Some kids go missing, while others live like this.

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The Atlantic Philanthropies

The video below is based on a teenager's life. His identity was kept secret to protect his anonymity.

For the sake of this story, I'll call him Jay.


Jay's mom died when he was little, and his father lived a dangerous life. So when he had a chance to leave Nigeria at the age of 15, he did.

"I got the opportunity with my uncle to leave the country, and we came over here and decided to go seek refuge in a country, go somewhere safe."

But when Jay got to Ireland, it was clear that his life wouldn't magically snap into place.

"I never knew anything about Ireland until I came here. And at that point in time, I was like, 'If I go back home now voluntarily, I don't think I'll survive.' But if worst comes to worst, you know ... it's meant to be."

He's not alone. Since 2004, hundreds of unaccompanied minors have come to Ireland looking for better lives, according to the last reported count done in 2009 by the Ombudsman for Children's Office in Dublin, which advocates on behalf of kids.

"My uncle was an agent and just said, 'Go to the Justice Department ... and say, "Here I am."' Then I did that and he disappeared. ... I think I had a short-sleeve shirt on. And it was still sunny back home but it was freezing here."

Classified as "separated immigrant children" by the government, most kids like Jay get a tiny food stipend and are placed in youth hostels throughout Dublin.


"There are about 40 kids in there with just one person. ... Nobody is going to look after you. ... You're just basically told to go look for a school yourself."

After living in a hostel for over a year, 16-year-old Jay was called in for an interview at the Justice Department.

"That was scariest thing that ever happened to me. ... You were asked about ... very obvious things like why didn't I just leave from Lagos straight away. ... I was trying to get out of the situation there. I didn't plan all these things. ... I'm like ... 'I'm a kid, for crying out loud. How am I supposed to know I'm supposed to do this?' I came out feeling like a criminal."

He describes the citizenship process as a mental waiting game — one that not everyone wins.

"At some point, you finish school and then you're waiting, waiting, and waiting. You don't hear anything back for, I'll say, five years. ... If you wake up in the morning, you don't leave that room. You're still in the same surrounding. ... There is a friend of mine right now who is mad just from that. ... He was put in a hospital. ... He was someone who was very lively ... and eventually he couldn't even walk."

After being asked to leave the country, with the help of a teacher, Jay was finally given "leave to remain." He can stay in Ireland temporarily under certain conditions, like going to work or school.

Unfortunately, many of his friends didn't share his fate. Some of them went missing.

Sample missing-child flyers posted in Dublin

"It happened to one of my Chinese friends ... and a man named Zhen. The next day, there's no sign of them. And we asked them, 'What happened? Was he transferred to another hostel and we didn't know?' And his things were still there, obviously, so you're like, this is not somebody who just upped and left."


While most people might fear the worst, Jay says:

"I just want to think in my head that he's somewhere else, living happily and living safe, you know?"

My heart just dropped.

Watch his story in this documentary:

Fact Check Time:

The filmmaker, Anna Byrne, told us that, taking into account the children who weren't officially documented as missing, 500 is a more accurate number for the number of separated children who have gone missing than the Ombudsman for Children's publicly stated figure of 419.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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